One in a series featuring candidates who are competing during the 2018 election cycle. This article focuses on two candidates for State Auditor and Inspector — Republican Cindy Byrd and John Yeutter, Libertarian. The general election will be Nov. 6.
1. What do you consider to be the most important issue that affects your constituents today?
Byrd: Taxpayers are demanding more transparency and accountability for where their tax dollars are being spent. Oklahomans want an independent auditor who will be the eyes on their tax dollars.
Yeutter: The most important financial issue for the State of Oklahoma is transparency. This is what leads to the need for an auditor. When someone is spending money other than their own, there is always the question of how it is really spent. This problem is compounded by the complexity of our state finance. Because there are multiple sources of income, some of which can only be spent for certain things, it increases the fear of mismanagement. Citizens and leaders are concerned about issues like funds meant for roads and bridges not being spent where they should.
2. What specifically would you do to address that issue for the benefit of your constituents?
Yeutter: My priority will be to provide an independent verification of state and county finance, so that taxpayers can have an assurance where funds are being spent. I am independent of the political process. Whether the County Treasurer is a Democrat or a Republican, and whether the Governor is a Democrat or a Republican, citizens can be assured that I will be able to audit State and county records free of any political bias.
Byrd: As the next State Auditor, I will work to perform more audits of state agencies and local governments and make sure the results of those audits are made available to every interested taxpayer. I will work with the newly created Agency Performance Accountability Commission to find efficiencies and reduce waste in government. I have 22 years of experience in government auditing. In the last three years, my audits have led to the indictment and/or removal of six officers from office and the exposure of more than $10 million in waste and abuse of taxpayer dollars.
3. How do you and your opponent differ on the issues you believe are important in this election?
Byrd: I have not had the opportunity to debate my opponent, and information on his views are not readily available. However, one important aspect that sets me apart from my opponent is that I have real government auditing experience and have the audit reports ready for taxpayers to see the results that I can deliver. My opponent has been a professor for the last 20 years and does not have the auditing experience that I possess.
Yeutter: I believe that the key difference between my opponent and I is the issue of independence. As someone who has no ties to either major political party, and who has not been a part of the current State Auditor’s administration, I can have a fresh, independent perspective on this important position.
4. On what important issues do you and your opponent share a common perspective?
Yeutter: I have great respect for Cindy Byrd. She and I are both certainly qualified to accomplish the task of serving as auditor for the State of Oklahoma.
Byrd: My opponent and I believe in independent audits for the taxpayer.
5. Please describe a time when you agreed with the position held by the opposite party on an important issue?
Byrd: I believe all Oklahomans want a more accountable, responsive government regardless of party affiliation.
Yeutter: I believe that partisanship creates many of the problems in our society. That is one of the reasons that I chose not to identify with either major party. I appreciate the stated desires of those who support limited government and economic freedom. I also appreciate the need to limit government interference in our personal lives. As an auditor, however, I can remain politically neutral, seeking to solve problems and communicate free of bias.